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Monday, February 28, 2011

Seed Swap Sunday at Knockvicar

For the second year running we attended the Seed Swap Sunday at Knockvicar. The first time I think I was so tired by the journey that I didn't take in the importance of what this community is doing. The gardens are in a field near the very small village of Knockvicar in Co. Roscommon. Here a group of people grow food for them selves and the wider community in ten polytunnels as well as outdoors. They also take care of the commuity hall which is an old school, testament to a larger population in the past. They also run courses in all sorts of sustainable activities like gardening, soap making and poultry keeping and once a month they have a meal in the hall together. Its a pretty international group with Irish British French and Hungarian members so the dinners look really interesting. On Saturdays they have a market from 11 to 3 which features Maison Djerbi Bakery and Patisserie. Mari-Aymone of Maison Djerbi provided delicious food for the seed swap. Other delicious items were provided by Bridget of Arigna Natural Gardens. There was no sign of a recession at Knockvicar as lots of seeds were bought by them. I hope they learnt enough from the seed workshops to be confident about growing their own in future, but all the same it would be nice to visit again. The community there is a great model for sustainable rural life.

We had a request for catalogues during the week from Pierce O'Reilly of Mayo Abbey Organic centre, so we decided to hand deliver them on the way home. We arrived into the lunch break of a FETAC organic horticulture course. It was a lively group who took us in and fed us tea and biscuits as well as buying seeds. The project is run by the community council and its goal as a rural community organic centre is to empower people with the knowledge to be self sufficient. It is another great example of how well organised communities make things happen.

Now its time to start sowing the seeds of next years seeds here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feeling grumpy about GM news and politics

I have got election fever and have mostly been feeling very cross about things, cross with the government for supporting the bank bail out and the Green Party in particular, as I was once an active member of it. Then I heard that Minister Brendan Smith had ' altered its (Ireland's) voting position and will support a number of proposals from the EU Commission aimed at authorising the placing on the market of food, food ingredients and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize and cotton. Ireland will also support EU Commission proposals to introduce a tolerance for the low level presence of, as yet, unauthorised GM varieties in imports of animal feed.' The full press release is here. It points out interestingly that: 'Over 90 per cent of the protein feed for Ireland's livestock comes from soya and maize by-products imported from North and South America, practically all of which contains GM varieties sown in those countries' Not many people seem to know this .
The Green Party press release points out that, 'In Government, the Green Party ensured that Ireland abstained on this vote.' which shows I suppose that their being in government was better than nothing, but doesn't really carry the spirit of its declaration in the Renewed Programme for Government which states it 'will declare the Republic of Ireland a GM-free Zone, free from the cultivation of all GM plants,' but failing to mention that being a GM-free zone does not mean that food sold is GM free, nor that most animal feed is GM.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Polytunnel Book

Number 342 on my list of things to do before I die was to write a polytunnel booklet. Highbank asked me to do one to go with the seeds and I would have enjoyed it although I would probably have put too much emphasis on weird vegetables and not enough on actually feeding yourself. We lost part of our big tunnel a storm recently, so recovering it is getting near the top of that list.
Now I am off the hook (regarding book writing), because Joyce Russell of Kitchen Garden fame, who lives not that far away from me, has done it already, and much better than I could have. Its not a booklet but a big, full colour, bursting at the bindings, production manual. You can buy it here. It is really well constructed, laid out by month and giving detailed instructions for all the normal vegetables. There are masses of really informative, as well as beautiful photographs by Joyce's husband Ben. I highly recommend it. Below is our tunnel when it was young and reasonably tidy.

Monday, February 7, 2011


We went to see a horse yesterday. As a result of an ad for an Irish Draught work-horse in Done Deal, several people contacted us. No body had a horse trained to work but Patrick's mare Silver seemed the most interesting. She is five and has been ridden and driven. She seemed pretty laid back. Naturally I fell completely in love with her, as I have wanted my own horse since I was about 5. I know its a really bad idea to buy the first one you look at but I am tempted. I would appreciate any advice from all you horsey people out there. She has very nice dark eyes. The flash caused the white dot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A year on the Land

Lat year Steven Lock and Adrian McCarthy made a series for television called; A year on the Land. They have recorded life on various farms throughout the year and they included us. We are not sure when it is going to be shown but they have put up a website about the series. We enjoyed having them around and even fed them.